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Draft HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act Validated

Apr 22, 2009, 7:11 AM

The model law on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs) was over the weekends validated in Bwiam, in Foni, Western Region.

The validation workshop that was sponsored by UNAIDS brought together National Assembly Members and NASO, a network of NGOs and CBOs engaged in HIV/AIDS related domain and people living with HIV.

This model law on HIV lays down the regulatory, among other things, the legal environment in which people living with HIV/AIDS should be treated so as to maintain their dignity and remove the stigma attached to being HIV positive.

It integrates the protection of human rights as a key element of an effective response to HIV, apart from dealing with patterns of transmission, prevalence rates as well as specific barriers to prevention, treatment, care and support.

The Act, entitled HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act 2009 is based on a review of the model law for HIV and AIDS in The Gambia (2007), as well as incorporation of comments of UNAIDS. The draft provides for legal framework for coping with HIV and AIDS in The Gambia.

The Act also makes provision for the dissemination of information concerning HIV and AIDS in education institutions and health services as well as providing such information to certain individuals and groups. There is also a consequence for the dissemination of erroneous or false information on HIV.

It also deals with prohibition against discriminatory acts directed against persons who have or perceived of having been infected with HIV. Consequently this part deals with prohibitions of discrimination at workplaces, school and educational institutions, travel, accommodation, to hold elected or public office, and health and insurance services among other prohibitions. It also deals with prohibitions and penalty for willful transmission of HIV.

If enacted, the Act will provide for HIV/AIDS prevention, implementation and control measures; treatment and support for HIV and AIDS infected people.

In his keynote address on the occasion last Saturday, Mr. Ousman Njie, Program Administrator, NAS/GFATM, who deputised for the NAS Director, Alieu Jammeh, said the newly adopted model law on HIV is a significant milestone in regional efforts to achieve commonality that seeks to provide specific roadmap to the national legislators and policy makers in countries.

He added that its main objective is in three folds: To serve as guidance, a yardstick and as an advocacy tool for legislators in the region.